Perfect Pitch

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Branson, Sep 19, 2015.

  1. Churchman

    Churchman Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 26, 2012
    Mozart clearly had perfect pitch.
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    No, if we have to practice, it is imperfect........

    Seriously, I don't believe so. We can train relative pitch like most serious professional musicians have, to a very high degree. Then the symptoms are similar.

    For me it probably would be not good. I play with ensembles that tune to A=390/415/433/440/443/465/512. Occasionally I play with a wind band where tuning is optional........

    For me, pitch is "color". Instruments do different things at their pitch sweet spot
  3. lipnutz

    lipnutz Pianissimo User

    Dec 17, 2013
    IMHO perfect pitch can be acquired by practice, playing, and instruction. The idea that someone is born with perfect pitch seems, sorry, preposterous. If one is not born with such knowledge, it is learned. But like many things, not everyone is capable of learning them, or if capable, the length of the learning process may vary greatly.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    I don't know about you, but in my not so short career as a musician, I have had the opportunity to work with quite a few perfect pitchers. None of them "learned" it, they just discovered it in some unrelated activity. In the beginning, many even felt guilty that something was wrong with them!

    There are plenty of things about humans that we cannot explain, things genetic and behavioural. My oldest son (who came in the package with my wife) never spent any real time with his dad, yet as a teenager and adult had many of his basic behavioural traits that definitely were not learned from his mother or me. We don't "learn" bad eyesight either.

    Our surroundings do influence us in a serious way, but there are natural talents that of course can be refined. There are "exceptional" people out there. I see perfect pitch as one of those talents. Perhaps not a blessing in every case either.

  5. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    Lipnutz, numerous scientific and musical studies over the years have proven beyond any doubt that approximately 1 person in 10,000 is born with perfect pitch.
    This is a good as any explanation I've seen and it is common knowledge.

    Absolute pitch (AP), widely referred to as perfect pitch, is a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.[1][2]

    AP can be demonstrated via linguistic labeling ("naming" a note), auditory imagery, or sensorimotor responses. For example, an AP possessor can accurately reproduce a heard tone on their musical instrument without "hunting" for the correct pitch.[3][4] Researchers estimate the occurrence of AP to be 1 in 10,000 people.[5]

    Generally, absolute pitch implies some or all of the following abilities, achieved without a reference tone:[6]

    Identify by name individual pitches (e.g. A, B, C♯) played on various instruments.
    Name the key of a given piece of tonal music.
    Reproduce a piece of tonal music in the correct key days after hearing it.
    Identify and name all the tones of a given chord or other tonal mass.
    Accurately sing a named pitch.
    Name the pitches of common everyday sounds such as car horns and alarms.

    People may have absolute pitch along with the ability of relative pitch, and relative and absolute pitch work together in actual musical listening and practice, but strategies in using each skill vary.[7] Those with absolute pitch may train their relative pitch, but there are no reported cases of an adult obtaining absolute pitch ability through musical training;[citation needed] adults who possess relative pitch but do not already have absolute pitch can learn "pseudo-absolute pitch" and become able to identify notes in a way that superficially resembles absolute pitch.[8] Moreover, training pseudo-absolute pitch requires considerable motivation, time, and effort, and learning is not retained without constant practice and reinforcement.[9]

    The last paragraph is well written and should be easily understood, especially the phrase "there are no reported cases of an adult obtaining absolute pitch ability through musical training."

    You either are born with it or not. Developing the ability to identify notes without absolute pitch is a learned experience.

    Rich T.
  6. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Hey, I keep my tuner between by two ears. Sometimes I think it is broken however. :)
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    This is one of many research papers that are relevant to this discussion.

    It seems that we are all born with a set of biological machinery for learning language, and that tone perception and language development are intimately linked.

    If some of that machinery is not used, then it withers in our first year. The tonal perception part of that machinery tends to thrive in cultures that speak tonal languages (such as Mandarin, Igbo etc), and wither in cultures that do not (such as English speaking cultures). This helps explain the much higher incidence of 'perfect pitch' related abilities in other cultures.

    Maybe you should rethink your use of the term 'preposterous'.
  9. Branson

    Branson Piano User

    Jan 16, 2011
    Wow! We are cookin' now.........

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